Michael Strahan
Michael Strahan

Michael Strahan along with Constance Schwartz-Morini executive produce the four-part documentary series The Cost of Winning, the story of the St. Frances Academy Panthers football program in Baltimore, an unlikely and uplifting tale of possibility, perseverance and leadership in the face of adversity.

Co-directed by Rob Ford (“Shut Up and Dribble,” “You Ain’t Got These,” “Stephen vs. The Game”) and Maurice Holden (“Tiger at 30”), the first two episodes of The Cost of Winning debut Tuesday, November 10 beginning at 9 p.m. ET/PT, with episodes three and four airing the following evening at the same time.

In 2018, a nearly 200-year-old Catholic school, located in the heart of a neighborhood rife with gun violence and grinding socioeconomic challenges, became a source of both immense pride and then searing controversy as the school’s football team, the Panthers, were expelled from their private school league for being “too good” – a turn of events that raised questions of racial bias. Finding themselves without a league in which to play, the team made its own schedule, barnstorming the country in search of top competition and the chance to showcase its players as they strove for athletic scholarships.

“We are excited to bring the inspiring story of Baltimore’s St. Frances Academy to life on HBO, and to showcase the adversity and challenges the Panthers endured to save their program,” said executive producers Michael Strahan and Constance Schwartz-Morini. “Thanks to the perseverance and dedication of the team at SMAC Entertainment, including Ethan Lewis, and Mike Ferry with The Story Lab, the series reveals the power of sports as a unifying force.”

Over the course of four half-hour episodes, The Cost of Winning follows the outspoken head coach Biff Poggi, along with highly touted recruits Demon Clowney, Chris Braswell and Jonathan Wallace, among others, as they pursue a national championship and a path to college for their 30 graduating seniors. The series takes viewers behind the scenes with the players and coaching staff of St. Francis Academy as they navigate and overcome challenges ranging from not having their own practice facilities to the relentless horrors of street violence in their Baltimore neighborhood.

A successful investor and long-time coach at rival Gilman School, Poggi arrived at St. Frances Academy and helped turned the once-winless program into a national powerhouse. The Panthers won three consecutive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships before being unceremoniously expelled from the league in 2018. Despite the setback, Panthers seniors ultimately received scholarship offers from some of the top collegiate programs in the country, including LSU, Alabama and Clemson.

Episode 1

Debut Date: Tuesday, November 10 (9:00-9:30 p.m. ET/PT)

Only one week out from their season-opener in Miami, the Panthers prepare for their grueling upcoming national schedule after being forced out of their local Maryland private-school league for being ‘too good.’ Despite lacking adequate facilities, and conditioning on the Baltimore streets, this small school sets out to do the unthinkable.

Episode 2

Debut Date: Tuesday, November 10 (9:30-10 p.m. ET/PT)

With Week 2’s home-opener against Chicago Simeon fast approaching, the No. 2-seeded Panthers have one more opportunity to prepare for their upcoming trip to Los Angeles to take on No. 1-seeded Mater Dei in hopes of keeping their national championship dreams alive. As the team prepares for the most important match-up of the season – and possibly their high school careers, the realities of life in Baltimore are constant reminders of what they’re really playing for.

Episode 3

Debut Date: Wednesday, November 11 (9:00-9:30 p.m. ET/PT)

As the Panthers work to rebuild their bruised team morale from experiencing loss on and off the field, homecoming provides the players with some much-needed support before they take on IMG Academy – another nationally ranked powerhouse – for a chance to redeem their season in one of the biggest football games Baltimore has ever seen.

Episode 4

Debut Date: Wednesday, November 11 (9:30-10 p.m. ET/PT)

As the final game of the regular season looms, the Panthers’ seniors are struck by the realization that their time at St. Frances is rapidly ending, and major life changes lie ahead. Before National Signing Day, Panthers’ coaches aid in solidifying college plans and help place those still uncommitted, while surprises – some good, some less than – arise for the players.

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